The day before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year. No doubt you already know that if you’ve ever tried to travel on this day – it’s awful. Crowds, slow downs, delays, it’s enough to set you over the edge. Whether you’re traveling by plane, car, or train, these tips should help you keep your cool during the holiday rush.
Be Prepared Before You Leave
Getting as much done before you leave your house significantly reduces travel stress. If you’re flying, make sure you and everyone you’re traveling with has a seat assignment. If not, you might get bumped from your flight – the surest way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to choose your seats online before you even check in. It’s best to do it when you buy your ticket, but as long as you get yourself locked in, you should be okay. Just check and make sure they’re still secured. Get to the airport VERY early if you can’t reserve your seats. The sooner you’re there in person, the easier that scenario’s going to be.
Also, print out all your travel documents. E-ticketing is great, but what if you can’t get service or your phone dies. Speed and preparation are going to make your travel experience all the better. That includes boarding passes, itineraries, train tickets, and driving maps. Do not rely on technology!
That said – charge up! All devices should be ready to go, just in case you don’t have an outlet. What if your plane gets delayed and the tablet dies? By the same token, gas up your car, and if you have time, take it in for a quick maintenance check. You do not want to be stranded on the side of the highway on Thanksgiving.
Early and Late
To encounter the least amount of people, travel during off peak hours. Four in the morning is a horrendous time to wake, but it’s a great time to hit the road or fly. If you have kids and you’re driving, try putting them to bed in the car at night. No one’s asking if you’re there yet, and the roads are clear. In all cases with children, bring activities. Let the rules slide, if you can make yourself. Kids feel like they’re getting a treat and are less likely to be antsy.
Allow Twice the Time
An hour and a half is not going to cut it at the airport, but three hours works. Yes, three hours early is a lot of time, but you’re not going to be so annoyed at the long security line, or dealing with the millions of caffeine deprived travelers who want to get a Starbucks coffee. That’s one grumpy bunch.
Driving requires tons of extra time. A two-hour drive really might take five hours, which is an awful prospect, but knowing you’re not going to make everyone wait to eat because you’re late really makes bumper to bumper traffic a lot more tolerable.
Pick Your Route Wisely
So, the fastest way to travel is by highway. Unless it’s Thanksgiving. Then, you may want to check out some local roads. Try Route 1 instead of I-95 on the east coast, for example. It’s a prettier drive, too.
Also, try to pick out some good stopping points. If you have children or pets coming along, it’s a good time for them to run around and get some air. And for the driver, it’s nice to get out of the car and walk around. Maybe work that around a good café so you can all eat and use a clean bathroom.
Pack Your Patience
No matter what you do, you’re going to encounter something maddening. Take a deep breath. It too shall pass!
What are your holiday travel tips?